Originally Appeared in The Green Man Review.
When the painted birds laugh in the shade, Where our table with cherries and nuts is spread: Come live, and be merry, and join with me, To sing the sweet chorus of “Ha, ha, he!” — William Blake (in MEZ, “The King of the Fairies”)
Yes, I’m a sucker for interesting covers and titles. I saw this CD and thought, “It’s GOT to be good!” I was not disappointed. It’s much better than good. MEZ are Martinka János on bass guitar, Péter János on flute and whistle, Turzó Sándor on acoustic guitar, Kuklis Henrik on vocals and percussion, Kostyák Eld on cello and synthesizer, and Czesznak Tamás on drums.
The first track, “Lovebag”, is an instrumental, and this band’s instrumentals are aggressive and convincing. Flute, whistle, and percussion mix with sythesizer, cello, bass and guitar for pieces that are emotionally moving, especially “The King of the Fairies,” which they drove successfully home with a martial spirit and an accompanying sense of the sadness that is the separation of the unreal world from faerie.
MEZ’s renditions of “Donegal Danny,” “Morelo,” and “The Rising of the Moon,” are tongue-in-cheek, along with traditional pub songs like “Dicey Reilly”, recalling a song I’d rather hear again… the Dead Kennedys doing Rawhide on the album *Nazi Punks Fuck Off*. Though they don’t mention a history of punk influences on their Web site’s descriptions of the band’s background, there’s a slightly punk bouquet about the album. Maybe it’s that the MEZ’s Kuklis Henrik and The Dead Kennedys‚ Jello Biafra share a slight vibrato tone. And I know it’s folk, but DK would have loved “As I Roved Out:”
And I wish the Queen would call home her army From the West Indies, Amerikay and Spain And every man to his wedded woman In hopes that you and I will meet again.
Ya gotta like the bravura these guys are bringing too, in what they do with an 11 minutes 20 second version of “The King of the Fairies”. When they play, they play boldly. As well, the Jethro Tull influence is not surprising, since they’ve opened for Tull and cited the experience as a watershed. This is like getting all new Tull instrumentals hurled at you like a lightening storm with some definite wizardry behind it. One finds this 9 minutes, 43 seconds into the piece, building to a diabolical brilliance that Carl Orff might have envied for “O Fortuna.” The Tull influence shows up again in “Fairy Dance.”
The female vocals on Paddy’s Farewell are nice, but the song is a bit tedious. Much better is the stronger, more assertive “Blacksmith”. The force of this woman’s gale will push you over with:
No witness have I none Save God Almighty And may he reward you well For the slighting of me
Even better, is “Fairy Dance.” It starts out so downright playfully Disney, seemingly so it can tease us to a transition at 2 minute 40 seconds that finds the listener at 3 minutes in the best instrumental adventure of the album. “Fairy Dance” is an 8 minute track that really shows MEZ’s collective instrumental talent. Production qualities, too, are superb. At 6 minutes 33 second into “Fairy Dance” they’re teasing and having fun again, being sure to make the point of impressing us by track’s end.
Be absolutely sure to “Taste the Fairy” before you’re done. You heard me. Taste it! You’ll find yourself with the vocalist saying, “mmm”, “mmmmm”, “mmmmmmmm”. And then listen to everyone else on this track tasting it, complete with glasses clinking, toasts, one case of throwing up, and songs of good cheer within this song of good cheer. I plan to taste the fairy again right after I finish the review. Anyway, vocal processing on this track is superb, and is more of the creative genius one finds in “The King of the Fairies” and “Fairy Dance”. It starts out haunting, truly haunting, and ends in fun.
The last track is called, appropriately, “After’… though it’s not really ‘after’, it’s still ‘within’ the CD. Hey, what are you guys trying to pull?!? We try to get out… they just keep pulling us back in!
Anyway, there are enough good songs on this disc to showcase the talent of this Hungarian Celtic group. Get the CD, and someone please get these guys on tour in my neck of the world. You’ll have fun, you’ll be moved, you’ll be impressed, and you’ll get to taste the fairy. What else could you want?
MEZ’s web site is here. In fact, this CD can be heard in its entirety there. But buy a copy as a gift for any fairy-lovin’ friends.